It is an indisputable fact that tablets, smartphones and social media are now totally integrated into the lives of parents and more and more children. It is also undeniable that we are only beginning to understand the positive and negative impacts of this new technology for children and adults alike.
If fact the World Health Organisation reports that:
'Infants younger than 1 should never be in front of screens'. And kids ages 2 to 4, the international health agency said, 'should have no more than an hour each day of sedentary screen time'.
In addition, recent research into cyberbullying points to a massive increase over the last decade. Instances have doubled from 2007 with:
'87% of young people having experienced cyberbullying occurring online'.
So let's look at some of the tools available to parents and nannies to help them ensure that the children in their care are protected, beginning with search engines.
How often do we now hear the phrase, “Just Google it”? The search engine giant has become a huge part of everyday life, with many simply searching the website name on Google rather than typing the full URL into the address bar! But how can you make sure that results that come up are child-friendly?
Well - Google has its own privacy setting in SafeSearch which works well. This can be set up for each user individually. However, a much simpler child-friendly option would be to use Kiddle.
The Kiddle child-friendly search algorithm is divided into 3 sections:
Safe sites and pages are written specifically for kids. These are handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors. Typically, results 1-3.
Safe, trusted sites that are not written specifically for kids, but have content written in a simple way and is easy for kids to understand. These are also handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors. Typically, results 4-7.
Safe, famous sites that are written for adults and providing expert content, but are harder for kids to understand. These are filtered by Google safe search. Typically, results 8 onwards.
The results that Kiddle returns are also posted with thumbnails to help make it easier for kids to pick the results they want to see.
Overall we feel that Kiddle is an excellent, kid-friendly search engine that is well designed and safe for kids researching as part of their homework or projects online.
For more of an ‘all-in-one’ solution you may wish to consider Kaspersky Online.
Available for PC, Mac and most smartphones. Kaspersky provides an all-encompassing solution to help monitor your kids’ internet activity. It uses similar filters to those Kiddle integrates, whilst additionally giving you the option to monitor total screen time and app usage. The paid versions also give you information on the device’s GPS location data and social media use.
We particularly like the simple and straightforward interface that Kaspersky offers the user and that fact that GPS tracking lets you know where your kids are at all times- providing excellent peace of mind. The app also alerts you when the battery on your child’s device is running low; so you can give them a quick call or message to reminding them to charge their device. This is something we know a few adults could find useful too!
As general rules, if you are working as a nanny, governess or tutor it is probably also a sensible idea to write down some daily ‘best practices’ you can discuss with your charges and then implement to make keeping them safe online easier.
It may also be advisable to involve the parents in this discussion, so everyone is in agreement about the internet usage plan moving forward. You can find some examples of some sensible rules for technology below:
Have computers placed in a common area of the house
Check your children’s browsing history regularly and make sure you know their passwords
Advocate time spent together, helping with homework or simply researching topics for discussion together
Set out the ground rules (such as ‘no talking to strangers online’, ‘no sharing personal information or addresses) etc.
No downloading or uploading of data, photos, music etc. without permission
Finally, and most importantly, speak to your children and begin an ongoing conversation about what they need to be careful about online, and any particular ‘dos and donts’.
As technology moves forward and globalisation increases human connection, of course, it remains essential to safeguard and protect those in our care; both in home-life or work-life for those working in childcare.
So please let us know your thoughts! How do you make sure your charges are safe online? What works well for you? Do you use any software or applications that you can recommend? Do you speak to your charges about their online computer and social network use?
Let us know in the comments below!